Technical Writing Introduction
Course 319 | 4 Days
Evaluations in the Last 12 Months
You Will Learn How To:
- Write clear and effective technical documents and reports
- Develop documents that meet the needs of your target audience
- Build effective sentences, paragraphs and sections that explain information clearly
- Employ diagrams, charts and other graphical tools effectively
- Create informative content that readers will understand and use
Hands-On Experience Includes:
- Analyzing your audience to meet their needs
- Applying a style guide to achieve consistency
- Editing to remove unnecessary verbiage
- Choosing the right words and building strong sentences
- Guiding research through explicit and tacit knowledge
- Improving readability
About This Course: In this practical hands-on course, you gain the skills to assess the needs of your users and create documents that explain technical information. You learn the mechanics of good technical writing, along with techniques for document design and page layout.
FREE AFTER-COURSE INSTRUCTOR COACHING — Learn more »
Course 319 Content
Introduction to Technical Writing
- Benefits of effectively communicating technical information
- Dealing with common writing problems
The Writing Process
Getting ready to write
- Eliminating misconceptions that stall technical writing
- Driving your document design with scenarios
- Focusing on a document's purposes
Assessing your audience
- Identifying your purpose and the reader's purpose
- What the audience brings to the table
Covering the knowledge domain
- Exposing tacit knowledge
- Knowing when you've "covered it all"
- Organizing using the audience's scenarios
Ensuring Clarity and Readability
- Discriminating between the three levels of information
- Determining information needs with the OODA loop
Architecting sentences that communicate
- Creating strong subjects
- Building clarity through sentence focus
- Solving common grammar problems in technical writing
Managing style in technical writing
- Evaluating readability using the Given/New technique
- Ensuring consistency with a style guide
- Eliminating reader recycling
The Mechanics of Writing
Working with words
- Selecting the right words
- Editing for concision
Editing for quality
- Knowing when and what to edit
- The editing triage
- Editing throughout the document process
- Two strategies for rewriting
Structuring Information for Understanding
Leveraging and formatting tables and lists
- Organizing data to support reader's scenarios
- Determining when to use a list
- Exploiting tables for highly structured data
Maintaining document structure
- Building cohesive documents with Given/New
- Applying useful headings to support skimming
Methods of development
- Effect and cause
- Order of importance
Designing Your Document
Audience-driven document design
- Relating document structure to the audience
- Recognizing the varieties of user manuals
- Developing reference manuals and white papers
Determining the document types
- Post-positive vs. pragmatic documents
- Implementing the right document format
- Tutorials and standard operating procedures
- Designing Playscript and Minimalist tutorials
- Structuring sentences and sections
- Handling introductions and conclusions
Prototyping the document
- Testing for success
- Levels of prototypes
Developing the Look of Your Document
Designing the appearance of your page
- The technical document reading process
- White space
Conveying information with graphics
- Chunking the document
- Employing photos, drawings and graphs
- Focusing graphics
Who Should AttendIndividuals who need to communicate technical information to others, or those who need to learn the principles of technical writing.
- Developing User Requirements: The Key to Project Success - Course 315
- Business and Report Writing Introduction - Course 219
- Software Change, Configuration and Release Management - Course 342
- Communication Skills: Results through Collaboration - Course 292
- Building an Effective Business Case - Course 212
- Public Speaking: Compelling Speeches & Presentations - Course 903
Standard Course Hours:
9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Free Course Exam – Last Day:
3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Each Course Day:
Informal discussion with instructor about your projects or areas of special interest:
4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
More Course Info
What is this course about?
In this course you gain the skills to explain complicated or technical material to others. You learn how to create documents to support users, decision makers, and anyone who needs to understand technical information.
This course provides a complete process for planning, writing and editing technical documents, including selecting document formats and making effective use of graphics. The course uses a toolkit approach from which you can select the appropriate techniques to implement in your environment.
Who will benefit from this course?
This course is useful for those who have to explain difficult information or convey instructions to others, and to those entering the field of technical writing who need to create clear and concise high-quality manuals and white papers. While some specific document types are covered (e.g. user manuals, white papers and reference manuals), the focus is on the principles of technical writing-explaining complicated material--that apply in all environments. Managers responsible for planning and assessing technical writing will also benefit.
I have experience in technical writing. Will I benefit from this course?
As an introductory course, this course assumes participants have no training in technical writing or are just starting to develop the necessary skills to excel in this field. While experienced technical writers might benefit from the review of the principles of successful technical writing, this course is intended for technical writers who are just beginning to acquire their basic skills.
Is this course going to be useful to me even if I'm not a technical writer?
Yes! If you ever need to explain things to other people in writing this course will show you how to do it well. In this course you learn how to explain things effectively-how to get your message across so that people can do their jobs well or make good decisions based on the information that you present to them.
What background do I need?
The only requirement is that you have an interest in writing well and a good grasp of the English language. Experience with Windows and Microsoft Word is helpful.
Does this course cover project documentation?
In relation to hardware and software projects, this course covers the creation of external deliverables -- documents used by the same people who are using the software or hardware product. Internal deliverables are created to support the development of the product; for example, project plans, requirements specifications, file layouts, design specifications and more. Internal deliverables are not covered in this course.
Is this a grammar course?
No. This course addresses the higher-level issues of communicating clearly and effectively. As a result, it is language independent. While this course discusses writing effectively, we assume that attendees have a basic grasp of grammar.
How is technical writing different from other types of writing?
Technical writing focuses on clarity, conciseness and effectiveness in delivering a message to a particular target audience. Technical writing is often performed in the context of producing a series of documents designed for a specific audience. Users typically read selected portions of a technical document as needed. Effective technical writers know how to structure information using words, graphics, and page design to achieve an intended purpose.
Other types of writing, primarily creative writing, tend to be concerned with mood, opinions or personality. These are typically stand-alone documents that are read from start to finish.
How much time is devoted to each topic?
Content Hours Introduction to technical writing 2.0 The writing process 5.0 Ensuring clarity and readability 6.0 The mechanics of writing 4.0 Designing your document 3.0 Developing the look of your document 3.0
Times, including the workshops, are estimates; exact times may vary according to the needs of each class.
What kinds of hands-on exercises are in the course?
Approximately 40% of class time is spent on hands-on exercises. These exercises allow users to practice the techniques learned in the course. A variety of document types are used in the exercises so participants can experience the practical application of the tools learned in the course. Participants work in teams to analyze and define the audience. Each participant writes and rewrites several documents using various styles.
As someone who has to produce technical documents, how will this course help me write effectively?
This course focuses on a process in which you learn how to:
- Analyze your audience so that you can produce the documents they need in a useful format
- Use graphics in conjunction with your writing, as well as how to arrange your documents for maximum readability
- Evaluate and edit your documents to ensure that they meet your audience's requirements
As a manager, how will this course help me?
This course defines a process and provides a toolkit for creating technical documents that will allow you to better plan and manage resources while ensuring you create high-quality external deliverables.
Is this course applicable toward a Project Management Institute (PMI) certification?
Yes. Though this course is not designed as preparation for an exam, it is beneficial to anyone working toward, or maintaining, a PMI certification. Most PMI certifications require a specific number of PDUs in order to obtain and maintain the credential. Completion of this course provides 23 professional development units (PDUs).
Learning Tree offers several courses that help you prepare for PMI certifications, including Course 276, Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam Prep, which prepares you for PMI's most popular certification. For more details on these courses and PMI certifications, please see the Learning Tree PMI Registered Education Provider Q&A.
How does this course relate to other Learning Tree courses?
This course is of interest to anyone who needs to communicate technical information in writing. This course is relevant to all Learning Tree courses that are involved in creating products that require external deliverables. The following courses may be of interest:
Many Learning Tree courses provide college credit and industry continuing education credits. You can also earn a Learning Tree Professional Certification in your area of expertise and prepare for popular industry certifications. See below for continuing professional development credits associated with this course.
This course qualifies for 2 semester hours of college credit as certified by the American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT). Read More... This course qualifies for 23 CPE credits from the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy CPE program. Read More... This course is approved by PMI® for 23 professional development units (PDUs). For more on the Project Management Institute and a full list of courses approved for PDUs. Read More...
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"The technical writing course was fantastic. It helped me eliminate 'no value added' to documentation, as well as whittle documents down to nothing but the information the end user truly needs."
– E. Shue
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